Shrimp gone wild in the Golden Isles

Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans

So when shrimp go wild at a big festival, what exactly do they flash?

Well, to be blunt, they eventually lose their skin. It’s not exactly the kind of thing that would get a bite from Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis, but it might be heaven to a shrimp lover.

Today the shrimp lose their skin and go wild on Jekyll Island. Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The Eighth Annual “Shrimp & Grits: The Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival” is this weekend. It begins today and runs through Sunday.

Shake your brill, baby!

People say the south has its own identity, but they say it as if the south is one collective culture and they don’t take into account any of the regional traditions that set one area apart from another. Certainly coastal southerners are a unique breed who are completely different from people who hail from areas that are farther away from the coastline.

Take Mississippi as an example.

The people of northern Mississippi call people who live in the three counties on the Gulf of Mexico “Coast Trash.” As you can probably tell, that is not a term of endearment. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that is meant to be an insult. There aren’t too many people who go around calling other people “trash” in a gesture of affection.

But, the derogatory term shows how there is a regional split in southern culture. The term was born in old southern snobbery where the people who lived around Oxford looked down their noses at the people from the coast. Just remember these are mainly Ole Miss folks — the same people who want the right to wave the rebel flag at football games — so they really don’t have too many brain cells.

There are the inland southerners and there are the coastal southerners — and the coasties love to celebrate shrimp. I mean they really love to celebrate shrimp. When I was a student at Southern Miss, we had no less than two shrimp boils every spring.

It wasn’t too surprising since we had a large number of students who hailed from the Gulf Coast and Southeast Louisiana. Shrimp is part of the culture on the coast, regardless of whether you’re in Mississippi or Georgia.

And that brings us back to the Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival.

Chefs will converge on the island to show off their best shrimp and grits recipes, and food lovers will flock there as well to gobble up the dishes. Add onto that the fact that you’re celebrating under the oak trees in the Jekyll Island Landmark District and it’s practically heaven — if you like shrimp and grits. Personally, I’m not a fan, but I hear other people love it.

There’s also a craft beer tasting. Now I can get behind that. Where do I go?

Go to www.shrimpandgritsfestival.com to buy tickets to some of the cook-offs. Then head over to the Georgia tourism website, www.exploregeorgia.org, to find more sites and festivals around the state to visit throughout the year.